Looking at my prices and rates you may wonder why I don’t offer free engagement photos as some photographers do. The answer: Because there is no such thing as free engagement photos.
Any photographer offering a wedding package with free engagement photos will include the costs for this photo session in the pricing. In other words, the price for your wedding package would be considerably lower with no “free” engagement photos included.
How much does it cost to produce engagement photos?
The production of 50-100 digital images as a result of an 1-2 hour photo session includes roughly $40 production costs and 10 hours total time:
Driving to the location and back with car: $25 (gas, toll, wear and tear – parking not even included)
Depreciation of camera: $5 (yes, those things actually die after a certain amount of shutter actuations)
Sending the pictures on a USB drive: $9
Writing emails, packing camera bag: 1 hour
Driving forth and back to the shoot: 2 hours
Shooting time: 2 hours
Working on the pictures: 5 hours (most likely more)
The hourly rate to calculate the costs for 10 hours production time may vary but it should be certainly higher than the wage of someone working at a fast food restaurant – considering the skills and equipment you need for the job.
Why don’t you include the engagement session in your wedding package then?
Been there, done that.
Some of my clients by that time didn’t want to do these photos so I had to put a price-tag on the engagement session and tell them what the wedding would be without this session. Quoting them the same price anyway: Unfair. Eventually I decided to list the engagement session with a separate price so people can decide weather they want to do it or not.
So you think engagement photos are not that important to do?
Quite the opposite.
Doing engagement photos is something that I highly recommend to every couple – not to maximize my profit but to get to know them better before the wedding. Meeting a couple at their wedding day after sharing the history of an engagement photo session is a little bit like meeting acquaintances – for me and for them.
At almost all of the weddings I’ve been to where I had taken engagement photos before, they were creatively arranged as part of the decoration, guest book, wedding website etc. So I dare to say that for the couples it wasn’t a waste to do them.
What’s your experience with the separate pricing?
I’d say out of 10 weddings, 8 would still do the engagement photos. And I’m happy to not having to take the other 2: when the session was included in my wedding pricing some (luckily few) people just did them because they were “free” and not because they were really interested in these photos. At times I felt like the free french fries that nobody wants to eat, but still is chewing on them because they are coming with the meal.
Now I’m offering a highly subsidized price for the engagement photos for anyone booking me for their wedding. I might not make more money with that per hour than the fast food restaurant team member, but I get to know the couple before the wedding. And I know they appreciate the product enough to spend a few dollars on its production.